Ah, brunch! Is there a sweeter portmanteau in existence? A better way to spend a tipsy summer afternoon? A classier way stuff your face for hours-on-end? Hint: These are rhetorical questions.
Despite the fact that I didn’t fall head-over-heels for Portland, there’s one aspect of Portlandic life I definitely jive with: brunch culture.
Portlanders have really taken it upon themselves to do brunch properly, much to my inner fat kid’s delight.
After talking to some in-the-know residents and trying out a handful of places myself, I got the lowdown on some of Portland’s best brunches.
This place only serves brunch on the weekend, and unfortunately for me, we wandered in on a Friday; but their lunch was spectacular, which I can only assume means their weekend brunch is even better. I liked that the menu wasn’t overwhelming, and the reasonable portion sizes matched the reasonable prices. The traditional brunchy cocktails we ordered (a mimosa for me and a bloody mary for Daicia) were ace as well.
Tasty n Sons
The Tasty n Tasty chain of restaurants includes east Portland’s Tasty n Sons and downtown’s Tasty n Alder. We’d originally planned to go to the downtown location for their Friday brunch, but the waiting list was so long they weren’t even taking more names (hence how we ended up at Clyde Common). The next day we managed to pull ourselves together a bit earlier to head out to Tasty n Sons, and it was worth the wait. Like most things in Portland the brunches don’t like to conform to societal norms, and Tasty n Sons definitely doesn’t play by the rules. While we waited, we ordered some non-traditional bloodies (mine was made with tequila) and once seated at the bar, proceeded to drool over the very unbrunch-like brunch menu. We settled on sharing a Malaysian curry noodle soup and a Burmese pork stew with eggs two ways, though it was a struggle to pass up the Shakshuka, or anything else on the menu for that matter.
Jam on Hawthorne
Because there are only so many days in a weekend and so many dollars in my wallet, I didn’t get to try Jam myself; but this southeast Portland restaurant touts some of the best breakfast in the whole city and is one of Daicia’s favorites. One glance at their menu and there’s no question why; the dishes are decadent and their ingredients are as Portland as they come–locally sourced, organic, free-range, hormone-free, house-made. They don’t call it “brunch” but their breakfasts are served until 3pm.
Mother’s Bistro and Bar
Another of Daicia’s favorites. “At Mother’s, we take traditional homemade favorites and refine them with classical cooking techniques.” Traditional is definitely the name of the game here, but always with a gourmet twist; a breakfast scramble with prosciutto, basil, and provolone cheese, hash with wild salmon and leeks, challah french toast…I think you get the idea. Again, not a true “brunch” place, but at 2:30pm the breakfast items are replaced with a whole new slew of drool-worthy lunch plates.
Grass-fed beef isn’t always easy to come by in the US, but Besaw’s has got you covered. So order that burger without guilt, or go a little wild with the ground buffalo burger complete with Sriracha aioli on a sourdough bun. They’ve got the vegetarians taken care of too, of course–black bean patties are available as a substitution. Most of the other items are pretty traditional, but any pretense of “boring” this may lend Besaw’s is erased by their delightful list of specialty cocktails.
More than one Portlander I spoke to (all of them, methinks) sang the praises of Screen Door, a restaurant that has brought traditional southern cooking to the Pacific Northwest. The reception has been a warm one to say the least. The fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, grits, po-boy sandwiches, cajun scrambles, benedicts, and waffles keep people coming back, if not a little heavier each time. Saturday and Sunday brunch is served until 2:30pm. Don’t forget your extra napkins.
Even if brunch isn’t your ideal way to spend an afternoon, Portland’s restaurant scene is sure to have something to suit your fancy. The famous Stumptown Coffee isn’t half bad either if you’re in need an after-brunch energy boost.
Lastly, I have to give an honorable mention to the 500+ food carts the city has, organized into “pods” that sometimes take up an entire city block. The food isn’t necessarily cheap like one might expect from street fare, but the options are endless and it’s a great way to grab a delicious meal on the go.
What’s your favorite Portland brunchery?